Category Archives: Random ramble

How often do you come across a situation where images from your own life, memories you’ve sealed and secured, reminiscences that bring a smile on your face yet leave you teary eyed and tugs your heart coz you know those moments can’t be relived ever?

The opening scene of Manjadikuru convinced me this is what I would be faced with for the rest of the movie. Thiruvilvamala, the location is just a few kilometres away from my paternal hometown. Not drawing similarities from there and events in my childhood seemed impossible through rest of the movie.

Vicky the narrator walks into his ancestral house, confused. His grandfather is lying motionless and the family is assembled to mourn his loss. And I stopped my nostalgic trip through my hometown in this blog right here . What happened after that are bittersweet memories though it leaves me thinking and walking down another trip down the memory lane…

The days following my grandfather’s death were the longest I spent in my paternal hometown. It was the first time that I was exposed to the gruesome reality called death. That I would never see him again… I couldn’t really believe that. When his coffin was lowered into the grave, third from the left, second row of the cemetery ( we just HAD to remember that one of the older cousins instructed), the ladies of the family wailed and howled, my dad stood frozen and the rest I didn’t care. I was wondering what would happen to all those flowers.

At the age of six, you don’t really realize what loss means but you don’t understand the social norms, customs and beliefs that need to be followed at the event of a death. We cousins weren’t allowed to play, no T.V, no making noise… The sober atmosphere made me wish.. ” Grandpa just come back”. For me, he had gone on some long trip visiting someone.

We had to attend mass every single morning following his funeral. And there was some other custom to be followed on the fifth day. Decorating the grave with flowers was the main agenda among us cousins. With too many of them bossing around me, all I had to do was pass flowers or keep them where I was instructed to. No scope for me to voice an opinion on how bad the orange marigold and the magenta vadamalli looked together.

We found a dead rat in the ‘thattumpuram’. The attic  equivalent in Malayali homes in Trichur side. We had to climb up the wooden staircase modelled like a ladder to get on top. This was our refuge from the control  freaks who’d shoo us away at the hint of a noise. We kids were too bored to mourn all day long. Influenced by the rituals performed by the priest, we had a funeral for the rat too. Incense, candles et all.. and thats when the movie makes strike two.That was the last time, all of us cousins about 10 of us played together.

Soon, the smiling faces disappeared. Subsequent visits started getting uncomfortable. The elders seemed to be behaving strangely. It took me years to understand what was happening and even more years to realize they would never act reasonably and arrive at a solution. At a certain point of time, I had no reason to go back there with grandma deciding to kick the bucket too. I had resolved to NEVER visit the place again.

Fate played a cruel joke. My father was uprooted from his hometown 40 years ago due to employment reasons and 7 mouths to feed. Four decades later, I’m back in the vicinity of the same hometown ( employment reasons here too), where I had resolved never to go back. Time has worked its magic, I have made my peace with that part of the world.

And here’s my two cents on the movie: Ever since I read a blog post by the director a few years ago ( It was one of her  earlier posts, couldn’t fish it out when I revisited the blog again), I knew this movie was going to be different. For someone who loves dwell in nostalgia, everything about the movie sounded exciting. And it didn’t disappoint. Intricate details of childhood innocence, perceptions of relationships and people, not knowing the difference between the haves and have nots are captured so beautifully! All I can say is, I witnessed a few moments of my past on screen. Those moments are irreplaceable… yet it leaves you with this warm fuzzy feeling. Thank you Anjali Menon!


Since, I’m not biography worthy, I’d rather do an autobiography ;)

Once upon a time…

The uniforms that held us in bondage were discarded, the terrible red ribbons which in no way matched with our uniforms were thrown away and I was celebrating independence. I liked to believe so.

The ‘single-pampered-spoilt-brat’ label was getting on to my nerves and I pleaded, persuaded and pestered ( the 3 Ps of parenting the parents) to send me away from Mallu Land and away from them. Delhi University was out of question and Chennai was a dirty place. So, Bangalore seemed a safe bet with Hitler (aka my Maternal Uncle) and family appointed as my local guardians.  I had the choice of only 2 colleges, Christ and MCC. Christ is where, every B’lore Mallu and his cousin existed and I knew I wouldn’t be spared from the web of extended family  here.

MCC chics were pretty cool and my moment of epiphany happened on a particular trip to Veega Land, when the girls and boys were sent in separate buses due to several ‘concerns’. So, while grooving to the beats  in the bus, during this particular trip, I wanted to know how it would be to study in a women’s only institution.

As I walked up the drive for the first time, I fell in love with the college. The Principal tried to dissuade me from opting humanities and attempted culpable homicide by asking me to shift to Economics, Math and Stats combo instead of the artsy combo of Pol. Sci, Eco and Socio. I stood firm, for the first time in my life.

Interview done, admissions done and it was time to pack my bags and come back to Bangalore. This Bangalore was nothing like the early 90s Bangalore which I’d lived in. So, advice flew in all directions. “Be very careful, the girls are dangerous”. “People will make you fall in a trap”. ” Don’t befriend guys there”. ” Be yourself, don’t succumb to peer pressure”… sad I didn’t note down some of the hilarious ones.  Also, questions arose on why go all the way to B’lore to do a mere B.A. Many people offered their condolences on the ‘death of an engineer’ in me. ( Who decided I’d become an engineer anyway?). But none of it had prepared me for the awesomeness and awfulness I was supposed to experience in the years to come.

Hostel, college everything was new to me. The reopening session included the mandatory Retreat which I attended diligently, like a goody goody Mallu catholic girl who had just come from Kerala. From the next year, I entered the vicinity only when attendance was taken and in the final year retreat, I slept most of the time in my room.

Now, I believed my college life way cooler than everybody else’s and wrote tiny bits and pieces and spammed people’s inboxes until they issued a shoot at sight sight of mail order. And that’s how I discovered this cool thing called bragging by blogging.  Well, the main reason was a particular friend of mine, the bane of my existence in school had started a blog and received many comments. I hadn’t outgrown the ‘competition’ spirit yet, and if she could, then I should blog too.  People were generous enough to comment and encourage me those days. Arun, Kunju, Raghav, JK, Akhil.. the initial days of blogging without any apprehensions were so much fun. A big thank you to all of you who took time off your busy schedules to read a few kbs of my online trash.

And once, I began blogging, almost everything about my life is chronicled here though there has been change of urls/addresses. ( just like me). This page is like an extension of me now, though I don’t like the fact that I’m forced to keep certain opinions to myself to avoid the wrath of people I know in real life ;).  I already told someone off coz he’s was being a prick, picking on me and my blog entries, fb updates and tweets. Today we refuse to acknowledge each others’ presence which is very convenient for both of us.

Ya, so where was I? Meandered as usual?

By the way, its time to change the Blog headline in a few days time.  I won’t be a Mallu stuck in B’luru anymore 😛

 

 

 


Help please

What do you say when,

Sometimes people ask, “Do you need my help?”

When they clearly expect a NO in reply

For a change, I said “Yes”

And it was fun 😛


Food, wine and merriment

(Warning:  Directionless post ahead)

“Can I please not come”, My repeated pleas fell on deaf ears as my parents dragged me into the church to attend the baptism of a family friend’s grandchild. All this, after the previous day’s drama of finding a gift for the baby to be baptised. We had absolutely no clue about the age or sex of the baby. Plagued by the theories of socialization which emphasizes on the role of toys in identity building, my parents and me went gift hunting.

Embarrassed by the situation, the mean me disowned them for a while and loitered around the store until a specimen caught my eye. A distraught guy from CET ( don’t ask how I knew he was from CET, I’ve lived close enough to the place, long enough to identify the species) was searching for the perfect gift for his girlfriend. I kept on staring at his antics which left him embarrassed and me suppressing my laughter. The gift was wrapped in red, with a red rose on top and the guy was troubling the sales boy for a red satin ribbon and a red envelope for a greeting card , all this reddish-ness made my jaws drop to the floor. Any self-respecting girlfriend would fling the gift out of the window and dump the boyfriend for his aesthetic sense or the lack of it. Kids these days! Ah, never mind, I’ve seen worse cases of relationship induced gift paranoia. The parents finally got their gift, age- neutral gender-neutral and all that and we headed back home.

Next day, in spite of a head-ache that transpired to a stomach ache and then body-ache, my repeated requests were ignored. Powdered and perfumed, dressed, decked and accessorized I was literally pulled into the church by my parents. Sans, the niceties of it, God bless the family and the baby… ( my parents were relieved to see the gift was appropriate enough for the baby, it was ‘he’ by the way), my intention is to throw some light on the specimen you encounter on such occasions. After the final blessing, while the photographers camera assaulted the baby and family, the valiachayans, achayans and kuttiachayans disappeared into the safe confines of their four-wheelers. Obviously, to lubricate and dissolve their digestive systems which wouldn’t absorb a single morsel of food without the ‘petrol for the achayan’s soul’. Experienced valiyachayans returned steady and stable, the achayans in the making made a strenuous effort to appear stable while the kuttichayans, taking their baby steps into true achayan-hood were still learning to how to booze and not break loose.

Observing them all and making a mental note to avoid crossing paths with the who’s who present in the hall, I waited in the queue for my turn. Before I knew it, I was pushed forward step by step, my plate being loaded in the process. By the time I emerged out of the mob I was struggling to balance the plate and the high heels ( aargh Amma). As my bad luck was kharaab, I ended up right in front of the ‘local babu’ who never spares me from his annoying questions. This achayan conveniently skipped everything that happened in god’s abode above and landed on time for the lunch in the parish hall below.

“Nee maamodisa koodan vannatha?” , he drawled.

“Alla kooli pani kittuonnu nokkan vannatha”, I wanted to retort but a valicha chiri a.k.a a reluctant smile sufficed for the moment, just like smileys help you when you have nothing to say.

I was appalled by the audacity of the number of achayans who sauntered in one by one , their wifeys had to sit through the rituals in the church and busy achayans landed on time to fill their pot bellies. Anyways, whoever had walked in with high hopes of a sumptuous lunch, left with sullen faces. I’m sure even Obama and Osama would’ve struck a deal to finish off the cook, if they had to eat that abominable sorry dish of a mutton stew. When I realized, my body couldn’t take the torture any longer, I left the plate in the bin, balancing it amidst a leaning heap of plates that threatened to crash any second. Dessert looked like gulab jamun and tasted like rubber. Lets not delve into more details about it.

The caterers are the most despicable species in Mallu land these days. Add to it the extravagant people who don’t need a special reason for food, wine and merriment. I was shocked to see  chicken biriyani being served on the 41st day of my uncle’s demise. Food was wasted in tonnes for this baptism too. And there are people who get a heart-attack due to the soaring food inflation these days!

Being the season of weddings and baptisms, I am sure food, wine and merriment left many in dire straits by the end of it. Living epitomes of gluttony who binge and then rush to their docs, the ‘pressured and sugared’ ones who find it difficult to exercise self-control this season… I saw many ruthless daughter-in-laws who looked daggers at  appachans and ammachis foreseeing troubled times ahead.

Gone are those days when cooking food for the next day’s grand occasion was a celebration in itself. Tempos arrived loaded with huge vessels, people thronged the local village market, advance booking would be made at the ‘kula kada’, the pandal would be erected, family members stayed up all night to slice onions and grate coconuts over endless banter and gossip,the ‘dahannakaaaran’ or the ‘local chef’ was a VIP during the season, the plantain leaves had to be cut and cleaned,young men served the food to the guests and end of the day, the excess food was parceled to family members and neighbours. Ok I need to stop taking that trip down memory lane once again!

(PS: Not all Achayans are like that)


In retrospect

Sometimes, reacting at the spur of the moment

Makes you say things, you’d regret forever

Makes you do things which you don’t want to do…

Makes you write things which  you wish could be erased…

Makes you feel so guilty about things you did, things you said and also about things you didn’t do.

A little deliberate effort could have amended it all, yet sometimes we choose not to.

As the year comes to a close, it is an ideal time for reflection and retrospection. Make amends, apologize and move on.

The last post thus, deserves to be deleted. Too much negativity getting into me. Its not at all good especially at this time of the year. Now that the blood sucking exams are almost done I think I’ve regained senses. Nah, me thinks it was a sudden bout of ADD 😛

Sometimes, I wish certain things in life could be ctrl+z ed too. Why is the human mind so encapsulated in the conflict between emotions and reason?

Lesson learnt: It is not necessary to blog about everything and anything.


What you learn from kids

A few weeks back I was at my cousins’ school for their Annual Sports day. Not that I was too enthufied to attend a sports day. In school, I’d hide behind the crowds so that the teacher wouldn’t pick me to run a race. I was too young to understand that ‘trying is more important than victory’ yet old enough to understand how embarrassing it was to finish at the tail end of a race. The only thing we nonathletic people had to do on sports day was to be the ‘cheering group’ or else the PT display.

Anyways, my cousins have followed my footsteps and thus, the younger one went for her PT display carrying a pack of chips and other snacks. The purpose of my going there was to pick her up from school as the van wouldn’t ply that day. Thus, I went there, awed by the changes in the school, making the right expressions of ‘wow’ and ‘nice’ so that the little ones aren’t offended. Honestly, the school and the expenses remind me of the saying, “kaashu koduthu kadikkana patti vangikkua.” Out of the minimal working days they have 1/4th constitute some or the other celebration and the remaining days the cousins claim,” Today we enjoyed so much in class… nothing to do”. This is the case in a reputed convent run school here which have supermodels and PETA activists to claim in their alumni. The school is doing a good job at molding them too.

I was there feeling like a misfit amidst the various types of mommies and daddies. Kids displayed their athletic skills after which the chief guests and nuns displayed their oratory skills. The poor kids had enough, sitting in the hot sun. They just wanted to get over with it and head back home. Anyways, after waiting for ages, the ‘sports day’ ended after everyone was given a fair chance to display whatever ‘skills’ they possessed.

I was walking along with my cousins and witnessed a scene like this:

A kid (kid 1) was walking with her mother. Her friend came in the opposite direction and the mother of (kid 1) asked the friend (kid 2) the usual questions like ‘hi-how-are-you’

I don’t know what transpired between them but kid 2 continued walking and kid 1 yelled  ‘Have some manners ya. Is this how you speak to elders, at least give my mother a proper response and go’

The mother was embarrassed on the sudden outburst and tried hushing her daughter but I really admired  kid 1′ s guts. She stood up for what she believed was right.

It just reminded me of a similar incident that took place sometime back.

We were talking to the daughter of a so called acquaintance. She is as old as me. She has been here for a couple of months and we ran into each other in a rather unexpected place. Anyways, the daughter was with her friends and she was asking about where we stayed. Amma gave her the name of the location yet, the daughter started arguing with Amma about the name of the place. She was hell bent on making us accept that the name of the place was the one she said. Now who would know better about the name of the place we lived? My mom who has stayed here for 10+ 1 1/2  years or she who came here a few months back.What was the need for her to argue on such a trivial matter and that too in front of her gang of friends. What difference would it make for her? Yes,  sometimes I’m really embarrassed the way my generation behaves!

I wish I had guts like the kid to retort and teach her a lesson. That 7 year old kid had more sense than me. Me, thrice her age didn’t stand up for my mom, just chose to ignore it and gave up. Guess it isn’t so nice to be nice in this world these days.


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